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DfE announces commissioner for Reading

Education secretary announces children’s commissioner at Reading Council following ‘inadequate’ Ofsted rating

The secretary of state for education has appointed a commissioner at reading Council after its children’s services were rated inadequate by Ofsted.

The inspection of Reading Council was carried out in May-June this year and the final report published in August slammed the “serious, persistent and systemic failures in the services provided to children who need help and protection”.

“The safeguarding needs of children at potential risk of harm are not addressed by consistently prompt and thorough inquiries,” said Ofsted. “Children are left too long in situations of unknown and acute risk.”

“Escalating risks to children are often not recognised and acted upon urgently enough,” the inspectorate added. “Inspectors found too many examples where children at risk of harm had either not been seen by social workers or, if they had been seen, their experiences and the continuing risks to them were not understood and acted upon with sufficient urgency.”

The education secretary stated that having considered the inspection which not only found that children’s services are ‘inadequate,’ but also the sub-judgements for children who need help and protection, children looked after and achieving permanence and leadership, management and governance were all rated as ‘inadequate.

As a result, education secretary Justine Greening has appointed Nick Whitfield as Commissioner for Children’s Services in Reading to turn the services around. The direction will remain in force until it is revoked by the secretary for education.

Whitfield’s role would be to:

  • Issue any necessary instructions to the local authority for the purpose of securing immediate improvement in the authority’s delivery of children’s social care;
  • Bring together evidence to assess the Council’s capacity and capability to improve itself, in a reasonable timeframe;
  • Advise on relevant alternative delivery and governance arrangements for children’s social care, outside of the operational control of the local authority;
  • Report to the Minister of State for Children and Families by 16 December 2016.

After he led school improvement at Kingston and Richmond Councils, for the past two years Nick Whitfield has worked for both the boroughs as their Director and has now helped them to join their services into a new organisation known as Achieving for Children.



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